Welcome to our board! Log In Create A New Profile
Use mobile view


With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 17 and 18

June 03, 2015 11:36PM
Thanks for all the comments. Lizzy is back, but not Darcy. We'll have to wait for them to get together.

Chapter 17

Charlotte found Raynor Hall a very comfortable home and thoroughly enjoyed Mrs. Raynor, Elizabeth’s mother-in-law. Mrs. Raynor was very warm and loving but more than slightly silly, given to frequent bouts of nerves, and devoted to her grandson. Lizzy handled these attacks of nerves by doing her best to soothe and comfort Mrs. Raynor. Charlotte joined her in these efforts.

As they entered the foyer, Mrs. Raynor exclaimed, “Oh Lizzy. You are finally here. You do not know how I have suffered. Anything at all might have happened to you. Thank heavens you are finally home.”

“We missed you, too, Mother. Why do you not go with Allen and the nurse to help him settle in? I am sure he would appreciate some cuddle time with his grandmother.”

“Oh yes, that would be excellent. How I have missed him. He has grown so much these two months. I hope it will be many months before you leave again.”

Charlotte answered, “At least we are here now.”

“Oh, excuse me. I did not see you. Please forgive me.”

“Mother and Mrs. Johnson, this is my good friend Charlotte Lucas. She will be staying with us for a while.”

“We are pleased to have you, Miss Lucas, I am sure. Now, please excuse me.” Mrs. Raynor took Allen from the nurse and carried him up the stairs to the nursery.

Elizabeth said, “Charlotte, Mrs. Johnson is our housekeeper. She will show you to your room to refresh. I will meet you in the parlor in half an hour, if that will be acceptable?” She indicated the parlor as they began to ascend the stairs.

“I’m pleased to meet your, Mrs. Johnson. Yes, Lizzy, that will be fine.”

“Mrs. Johnson, we can speak once you get Charlotte settled.” Mrs. Johnson indicated her agreement with a nod.

The women separated, with Charlotte following Mrs. Johnson to her room. She found it to be a pleasant room, mostly decorated in hues of a quiet, buttery yellow. Golden chrysanthemums sat in the middle of a table next to a comfortable-looking chair. Charlotte smiled to see them, thinking that this was an indication of the staff’s attention to their mistress’s love of flowers. Lizzy had always seen that there were flowers in most of the rooms at Longbourn when she was younger. Apparently, that was now true at Raynor Hall.

Mrs. Johnson met with Elizabeth as she cleaned the dust of travel and changed. They discussed dinner, and Mrs. Johnson updated Elizabeth on a couple of staffing changes that had occurred during her absence. Elizabeth would meet with the new maid and under-gardener the following day. Once changed, she immediately retired to the parlor and tea.

Charlotte joined Elizabeth a few minutes later. Mrs. Raynor arrived some thirty minutes later after having enjoyed her time with Allen. She demanded that Elizabeth updated her on everything that had happened while they were at Longbourn. Lizzy shared general news but spent most of the update on the growth Allen had experienced. She knew her mother-in-law well enough to know where her true interest lay. She glossed over social news of the Bennet family, indicating that she had attended a number of engagements and had enjoyed herself but was glad to be home again.

The next day, Lizzy and Charlotte paid calls on a number of neighbors. This allowed Lizzy to both notify them of her return and introduce Charlotte at the same time. Both had a delightful time catching up on the news and making new acquaintances. Lizzy also spent time with the steward working on estate business before making calls. In spite of the abundance of rain that summer, the sun had broken through enough to ensure an ample harvest. In general, she was pleased at how everything was being managed.

Within a few days of their arrival, Mrs. Raynor, Elizabeth, and Charlotte were invited to dinner at the Nelsons. A number of other local families were also invited. They were all very welcoming to Miss Lucas and wanted to get to know her better.

Charlotte was seated at the table between the Wilson brothers. The Revered Michael Wilson was the local parish priest. He was a well-spoken man in his mid-thirties. It was obvious that he enjoyed reading and was well educated. Thomas Wilson, his slightly younger brother, was a local apothecary. Charlotte greatly enjoyed speaking with both of them. They were excellent conversationalists with interesting perspectives. This was completely unlike any of the dinners she had regularly attended in Meryton where new ideas were seldom participants.

Their mother, Mrs. Wilson, also attended the dinner. During the separation of the sexes, Charlotte spent her time chatting with Mrs. Wilson. She found her a wise and sympathetic listener. Charlotte greatly enjoyed her conversation. This dinner demonstrated to Charlotte that her social life was already more interesting than in Meryton.

After the first day of visits, Elizabeth and Charlotte settled into a schedule for their days. While Lizzy spent mornings with the steward dealing with estate business, Charlotte assisted by visiting the tenants and carrying on charity work such as she did in Meryton. She met with many of the tenant families, seeing where there were difficulties that Lizzy could address. She often brought a soup, biscuits or some other treat, a blanket, or something else that the family might appreciate.

On these visits, she frequently encountered Reverend Wilson attending to the same charitable cases. He was devoted to his parish and his children. He was a widower with a boy, William, and a girl, Matilda, who were ages 4 and 2. His mother lived with him and cared for the children so he could go about his duties. His brother, Mr. Wilson, also shared the family home. On some visits, she also encountered Mr. Wilson as he brought remedies for ailing family members.

Two or three times each week, the family from Raynor Hall would attend a dinner party at a neighbor’s, knowing that soon, Elizabeth would also host one. Although there was no local assembly, such as Meryton boasted, Charlotte enjoyed a very full social life, just one currently devoid of dancing. Elizabeth felt their life was quite satisfactory and said as much. Charlotte agreed.

One afternoon while sharing a cup of tea, Charlotte remarked, “Lizzy, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you asking me to join you here at Raynor Hall. You have many interesting neighbors. I have so enjoyed getting to know Mrs. Raynor, Mrs. Nelson, and Mrs. Wilson. Mrs. Nelson and Mrs. Wilson, like your aunt, show that life-long learning is important to staying young. They have given me a determination to make a list of things I would like to study in the future. To begin with, I understand you have an herbalist on the estate. I would like to learn from her.”

Lizzy replied, “Yes we do. We are blessed that Mrs. Russell is here to tend to so many of the little ailments that come along. While Mr. Wilson’s remedies are quite necessary, they are too costly for many of the families. Mrs. Russell provides assistance for smaller illnesses and often refers patients to Mr. Wilson. They actually work fairly well together. Mrs. Russell frequently teaches the women about herbs that will help their families. When would you want to start?”

“I talked to her at the Smith’s home yesterday. I will visit her in the early afternoon starting tomorrow. This is a good time of year to start as she is gathering the last of her herbs for drying and I can assist.”

“Excellent. I agree that the women you mentioned all are good examples of the benefits of learning. Now that I have access to Allen’s library here, I am broadening the reading that I do. For example, I now read about estate matters and agriculture, which I never did at Longbourn. It is quite empowering.”

Elizabeth found the confidante in Charlotte that she had missed since Allen’s death. They generally spent part of the afternoon in the parlor, drinking tea, and talking about families on the estate, who might need additional assistance, changes that Elizabeth was contemplating, and their families back in Meryton. Although Mrs. Raynor often sat with them, she rarely contributed to any conversation but that about families on the estate or Allen. She often had background information that was helpful in determining how issues could be addressed.

Mrs. Raynor enjoyed visiting her neighbors in morning calls, but her nerves could be overwrought by the stress of the visits. Elizabeth did what she could to soothe the nerves. Mrs. Raynor frequently spent the hour after her return from the visits with a cup of warm milk and a rest in her room. Charlotte could understand why Elizabeth had wanted a friend on hand to help. Mrs. Raynor had a tendency to flutter around and be upset by minor issues throughout the day. Her biggest concern was always Allen. If he fell down or bumped himself, she was filled with worry and occasionally tears. Keeping her content was a busy activity.

Charlotte greatly enjoyed the lessons on herbs. Some of the information was new while some was advice her own mother had followed. She found that the Reverend Wilson also wanted to learn about herbs so that he might help families who could not afford the services of his brother and thus joined the lessons. During their lessons together, he and Charlotte found themselves with a deepening friendship. Charlotte hoped it might develop into something even more. She found she greatly enjoyed his company. Perhaps she was more romantic than she thought.

Soon after this, Jane arrived at Nelson Hall. The next day, she visited Raynor Hall and updated Elizabeth and Charlotte of all that was going on back in Meryton. “Lizzy, Charlotte, it has been such an eventful autumn. Between the Bingleys, Hursts and Mr. Darcy at Netherfield, as well as the militia, there have been so very many dinners, parties, and such, including a very nice ball, that I don’t think I have ever seen such a social scene. I am sorry you both missed the ball.”

Charlotte replied, “You must tell us about it and what everyone wore.”

Elizabeth asked, “You did dance with Mr. Bingley, didn’t you?”

“I did, and with Mr. Darcy. I had the supper dance with Mr. Bingley. But I must tell you about Mr. Collins. You know he came to visit with an eye to selecting a wife.”

Elizabeth replied, “That is what you indicated in your letters.”

“While it is true that he is respectable, he is not, perhaps, terribly well versed in the rules for polite conversation. He seems to be somewhat obsequious and quite talkative. Father was quietly laughing at him shortly after he arrived. However, he seemed to determine that Kitty would make a good Mrs. Collins, and she was horrified at the thought. So, after discussion with Maria and Lady Lucas, he was subtly directed to consider Maria instead. I expect you’ll be receiving an announcement any day now. At least, that was what it looked like before I left. It appears our Aunt Stanford can be quite crafty when necessary.”

Charlotte asked, “So, you think he will offer for Maria?”

“I would not be surprised.”

Elizabeth asked, “And what about Mr. Bingley?”

“He asked to call upon me in town after I return and I agreed.”

Charlotte said, “That sounds promising.”

Elizabeth agreed, “Indeed, it does. You seem to like him very well.”

“He is a very agreeable man. I enjoy his company. I will not speculate about more than that just yet. I am not as sure of his sisters. Mrs. Hurst kept very much to herself, so of her, I have little opinion. However, Miss Bingley acted as if she were my friend, but then upon departing, sent a note which indicates otherwise. We will see what happens with her when we are in town together. So, the girls are very happy to be with their grandparents and cousins. They found it lonely when Allen left.”

Elizabeth agreed to the change in subject with a smile. “Allen is also happy to be back with his grandmother. We are blessed to have such loving families for our children.”

They did return to the subject of the ball to hear about the dresses, about the food, and about who had danced with whom. By the time Jane left, the other two were satisfied at her explanation although a little sorry they had been unable to attend.

That same day, the post brought the announcement of the engagement between Maria and Mr. Collins. Charlotte was somewhat wistful thinking that had she been home, she might have been able to capture Mr. Collins’s attention. Anyone respectable was better than no one. However, she determined to be optimistic that something might happen with Reverend Wilson or perhaps someone else Lizzy would introduce her to. Her options were not as limited as they had been when she was confined to Meryton. If nothing developed with Reverend Wilson, there was always the Season in London to follow. Perhaps although she had little dowry, she could still attract someone.

The next day, Lizzy hosted a dinner for the neighborhood at Raynor Hall. She was happy to have Jane nearby again. Of course, they were not as close as when they had been girls, but she always felt better when she could talk regularly with Jane. She just wished Jane could spend more time with the Nelsons instead of in town. She also enjoyed the company of the Nelsons and other neighbors. Talk was lively and wide ranging, including the harvest, shooting season, plans to attend the Season in London, and plans for the Christmas holidays.

During the meal, it became apparent to Lizzy that Reverend Wilson had become quite attracted to her friend. He had been attentive before dinner and enjoyed a lively conversation during the meal. While not appearing to do so, she watched the interplay between the two when he headed directly to her when the men rejoined the women after the separation of the sexes. She speculated that a romance was brewing. Reverend Wilson was actually proposing to Charlotte, although Lizzy would not learn of this for some time.

“Miss Lucas, I am grateful to Mrs. Raynor for bringing you to Raynor Hall this autumn. I have enjoyed working with you caring for tenants on the estate these past weeks. I find you frequently on my mind as I go about my other duties. If you would be interested in becoming Mrs. Wilson, you would make me the happiest of men. Could I interest you in a lifetime of mutual respect and service with me? I apologize that this isn’t the most romantic of proposals, but I am not overly romantic myself.”

Charlotte smiled and replied, “I am not romantic you know. I never was, I ask only a comfortable home and you offer even more than that. You also offer pleasurable companionship, good conversation, and lovely children. I have very little to offer, so I know how very lucky I am." Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honorable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. This preservative she had now obtained; and at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, she felt all the good luck of it.

Reverend Wilson corrected her, “It is I who am lucky. You cannot realize how much more than money you will bring into our lives. Your sweet nature will make all of our lives better. That is worth so much more than a few pounds. May I write to your father for his consent? I realize that you do not need his permission, but I would like his blessing. I regret that I cannot go to him in person.”

Charlotte replied, “I am sure my father will understand. I will also write him, and if you can come by tomorrow morning, can include your letter with mine.”

Reverend Wilson asked, “Will you want to be married from Meryton?”

“That would be my preference.”

“Then, I will also ask that the banns be read. You could return home for Christmas and we could wed then, would that suit? I would prefer not to wait for a long engagement.”

“I think that will make the holiday very enjoyable for my family. My sister is also to be wed then. Perhaps we can combine the ceremonies.”

“Do you mind waiting until we get your father’s consent before informing our friends and family here?"

“That is probably for the best. But you might want to tell your mother after swearing her to secrecy so she and I can begin to plan my joining her household.”

They smiled at one another and then separated to visit with others at the dinner. The next day, he arrived in the late morning, and they sent off the letter. The response was quick, positive, and contained agreement that Maria and Charlotte would share a joint wedding before Christmas.

The day the letter offering her father’s blessing arrived, Charlotte talked to Elizabeth as they sat alone together in the parlor at tea. “I have some interesting news for you.”

“Oh? Please tell me.”

“Reverend Wilson has asked me to become Mrs. Wilson, and I have accepted. It appears that I will be returning to Meryton in a few weeks for a wedding, after which I will be moving here permanently.”

“Charlotte, that is wonderful news. I am so happy for you both.”

“Maria and I will share our wedding. Father is happy about having to provide only one wedding.”

“We must all return to Meryton to celebrate with you. He is a good man. It will be wonderful to have you for a permanent neighbor.”

“Although I have not known him long, I greatly esteem him. And he does not care that I bring relatively little to the marriage. I am content.”

Mrs. Raynor, although happy for Miss Lucas, could not face the idea of travel in December. She would remain home. Mrs. Wilson and the children would stay at Lucas Lodge, which would also host Mr. Collins. Reverend Wilson and Mr. Wilson would stay with Reverend Clark who would perform the wedding.

Elizabeth, Mrs. Wilson, and Mrs. Raynor visited the dressmaker together to help Charlotte select a dress. Mrs. Raynor ‘s suggestions were quite frilly and not what Charlotte envisioned. She did not want a fancy wedding dress, just a nice dress that she could wear at more formal occasions after the wedding. She finally selected a lovely pattern and a cream-colored material over which she would layer a more colorful overskirt in the future. She was very practical about her choices. Mrs. Raynor was very disappointed in the plainness of the dress. However, the other women were pleased at how it well Charlotte would look in it. For the rest of the wedding plans, Charlotte trusted to her mother and sister. She would arrive home just prior to the wedding.

Chapter 18

Thus, the banns were read in Meryton church for both Charlotte and Maria Lucas. Those not close to the Lucas family were surprised to hear about Charlotte, but all wished the family well and rejoiced with them. Maria received many congratulations from their neighbors at her good fortune. Lady Lucas also received many congratulations on successfully marrying off two of her daughters. She was ecstatic at the opportunity. Maria spent much of the three weeks packing up and preparing to ship her belongings to Hunsford. There were also items of Charlotte’s that would be shipped off to Surrey.

Lady Lucas was excited to spend the three weeks planning the wedding. Maria was allowed to make a few choices, but Lady Lucas reveled in providing a spectacle for Meryton in the wedding and breakfast for her two daughters. Lady Stanford called upon Lady Lucas after the receipt of Charlotte’s news to offer congratulations. “What a happy chance has led to the marriage of both of your daughters.”

“You will never know how very pleased I am that you thought to consult me on who might be a good choice for Mr. Collins. He will do very well for Maria. And to think that Charlotte, too, is marrying a clergyman. I had feared that she would never marry. I am sure she will be very happy.”

“You will also have grandchildren. That is a precious gift.”

“Indeed it is. I am very happy for both of my daughters. My only regret is that they will both be so far away. I cannot visit them very often.”

“I am sure you will find a way.”

A few days before the wedding, Meryton received an influx of visitors. Mary and her husband were to spend a few days with her family for Christmas and were the first arrival. Her husband, Reverend Jeremiah Ainsley, was able to have his curate substitute for him so his wife could spend her first Christmas as a married woman with her family.

Once Mary had settled herself in the parlor, Kitty and Lydia described Mr. Collins, his tentative courtship of Kitty, and then his decision to marry Maria.

Lydia started, “He actually tried to interest us in Fordyce one afternoon. Can you imagine?”

“What is wrong with Fordyce? He has many interesting things to teach us.”

Lydia said, “It is not something I want to hear. Too boring for words.”

Kitty added, “Fordyce might not have been too bad if he were an interesting reader. He had only a monotone when he read. And it seems that all he can talk about is Lady Catherine deBourgh and how wonderful she is. When he asked for the first two sets at the Netherfield Ball, I was horrified that he had decided I should become Mrs. Collins.”

Lydia laughed and said, “Aunt Bess visited with Lady Lucas and Maria who agreed that we should try to help him shift his interest to Maria. She would be a much better choice for him. It was so amusing to watch.”

Kitty said, “I had never realized what a true strategist Aunt Bess is. I doubt Mr. Collins realizes that we maneuvered him into his interest in Maria.”

Mary said, “He cannot be so bad as all that.”

Kitty replied, “He is not bad. He is comic or maybe even ridiculous. However, Maria plans to help him improve. If she succeeds, it will not be so bad. After all, he offers a respectable home. She wants me to come visit them in May. I can see how much progress she has made. However, you will see him shortly and can decide for yourself.”

Jane remained at Nelson Hall since she had spent so much of the fall at Longbourn and the Nelsons wanted her company. Elizabeth, Allen, and Charlotte arrived from Raynor Hall shortly after Mary. Charlotte returned to Lucas Lodge for the last time as a single woman. Mr. Collins arrived and also remained at Lucas Lodge, much to the relief of his Bennet cousins.

Charlotte was quite relieved at her escape when she met Mr. Collins. Although he was a foolish man, he was respectable and would provide a fine situation for her sister. She was grateful that Reverend Wilson was someone she could respect. She would probably have accepted Mr. Collins, just as her sister had, in order to have a respectable position and remove the burden of her care from the family. At least she could truly esteem her own choice. She knew she was truly blessed in Reverend Wilson.

When Mary finally met Mr. Collins at dinner after he arrived, she was astonished. He could not have been more different than her husband which was how she had been picturing him. Jeremy was so kind and quiet, not pompous and loquacious. She was forced to agree with her sisters that he was a foolish man. For Maria’s sake, Mary hoped the improvement plans would help him to become less ridiculous.

Reverend Wilson, Mr. Wilson, the children, and Mrs. Wilson followed the next day. Reverend Clark was very welcoming of the two Wilson brothers. All were invited to dine at Lucas Lodge so that the Wilsons could become acquainted with the Lucas family. Michael found his new family warm and welcoming. Shortly after they arrived for dinner, Sir William took him aside and said, “Son, I am so happy to welcome you to our family. Charlotte is a wonderful woman, and it speaks to your perceptiveness that you looked past the size of her dowry. I am sure we will enjoy having William and Matilda visit as well. How blessed I am that we share a name.”

“Thank you, sir. I think that means you will be a true grandfather to William. Since he has no other, he is truly blessed to have you now.”
Dinner was an interesting affair as the Lucas family sought to know the Wilson better. Mr. Collins found he was unable to monopolize the conversation with comments about Lady Catherine, but Maria listened to him sympathetically after the meal, which helped him to feel more comfortable. Privately, she thought that a first goal might be about acceptable conversation styles. If he would join in with his own opinions and experiences, rather than tie everything back to Lady Catherine, it would be much easier to participate and have a real conversation.

Sir William beamed as he escorted his two daughters down the aisle. Both couples stood through the ceremony as if in a hazy dream. While Maria tried to be enthusiastic about this marriage as Reverend Clark droned on; Mr. Collins paid rapt attention. Mr. Wilson and Charlotte seemed to see only each other and paid little attention to the actual words of the ceremony. Apparently, they were both more romantic than they had thought. Soon, Maria was Mrs. Collins and Charlotte was Mrs. Wilson.

One bride and bridegroom set off for Kent from the church door, and the other left for Surrey after the wedding breakfast. Lucas Lodge was filled with wonderful food and well-wishing neighbors. The whole family, in short, was properly overjoyed on the occasion. The younger Lucas girls formed hopes of coming out a year or two sooner than they might otherwise have done; and the boys were relieved from their apprehension of Charlotte's dying an old maid. Sir William was grateful that he only had to pay the costs for one wedding for both girls. Lady Lucas was excited about the possibility of Maria becoming mistress of Longbourn at some point in the future. She was sad to have Charlotte so far away but she did like the new grandchildren she acquired with the marriage.

The Wilsons returned to Surrey following the newlywed couple about three days after their departure. They enjoyed becoming more deeply acquainted with the Lucas family. Lady Lucas quite fell in love with her new grandchildren. She promised to visit when she could although they all knew it was highly unlikely to be soon.

The Gardiners, Raynors, and Ainsleys remained at Longbourn to celebrate Christmas and enjoy a few quiet weeks together. By the beginning of the year, the Ainsleys had to return to Cornwall. The rest would wait a couple of weeks before heading to London.


With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 17 and 18

ShannaGJune 03, 2015 11:36PM

Re: With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 17 and 18

terrycgJune 05, 2015 08:36PM

Re: With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 17 and 18

Lucy J.June 04, 2015 05:16AM

Re: With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 17 and 18

PeterJune 04, 2015 10:19AM

Re: With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 17 and 18

ShannaGJune 04, 2015 05:23PM


Your Email:


Spam prevention:
Please, solve the mathematical question and enter the answer in the input field below. This is for blocking bots that try to post this form automatically.
Question: how much is 13 plus 18?